The Longest Now

Language and the UN
Wednesday March 09th 2005, 7:54 am
Filed under: %a la mod

The Language Log
is a brilliant collection of tidbits about language around the
world.  It’s what makes the world go ’round, after all… I love this little piece
about the UN’s official languages, and the element of pure symbolism
involved.  I wonder how the world would be different if diplomacy
were opened up to a broader spectrum of people and educational

Language and the UN …

What the– ?
Wednesday March 09th 2005, 12:03 am
Filed under: indescribable

How does one get to What the Hack?  One takes the HackTrain, of course.  Straight out of A Phantom Tollbooth

Gibt es Strom/Internet im Zug?
Strom gibt es, Lokales Netzwerk auch, internet wird gerade gekl

Googl^B^B^Berkman incorporates Wikipedia
Tuesday March 08th 2005, 8:45 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

Word has it that Jimmy Wales has been bloggably appointed a non-resident fellow at the Berkman Center.  It’s hard to say which party to congratulate.  All I know is, some sort of congratulations are in order.

The Wiki Life
Tuesday March 08th 2005, 2:24 pm
Filed under: metrics

Derek Ramsey, Daniel Mayer, Bryan Derksen, Seth Ilys, Charles Matthews, and Stacey Greenstein
were all featured in today’s Wired News article on Wikipedia, as six of
the most prolific and active [English] contributors.  Still no
thoughts on the rest of the world, nor really a recognition that it
exists.  Charming profiles, though.

The Wiki Life …

Wayne State scorns Wikipepedia, spelling
Monday March 07th 2005, 11:12 pm
Filed under: poetic justice

At least they didn’t use an article on it.  Not much juice in this article beyond the cute title.  A prof says accepting WP citations from undergrads is ok, but not from grads.  The author intones,

Without formal peer review, there exists the possibility of Wikipedia articles being slanted to particular points of view.

I’m still waiting for someone other than a brilliant librarian to address the inverse of that statement.

Wayne State scorns Wikipepedia, spelling …

Si Bheag, Si Mhor
Saturday March 05th 2005, 2:19 am
Filed under: indescribable

It was another endless day.  Some people hate Mondays; I hate
Fridays more.  I rushed to finish, not only to be done by sundown,
but also to make it home and clean up in time for the music I was
assured would be taking place.  E-flat, one of my oldest friends
and twins, hangs out with some of the coolest musicians in the
country.  Every now and then some of them stop by to say hello.

Tonight, two people who play in a band with her (they’ll be at the Burren tomorrow
from 5-7pm; go see them!) and an old friend from H-town showed up to
jam.   Two more filled out a string sextet, and we all made merry until midnight.

[One] little, [one] big” — so goes the title of an old Irish air by Turlough O’Carolan, from an ancient legend
By the time I thought to record the session, and gave up looking for an
external mic, this is what was being played.  The sextet had just
broken up, and we were down to duets.  This recording doesn’t
begin to do the music  justice, but perhaps captures a taste of
its spirit. 

Si Bheag Si MhorFrom our house tonight  |  Planxty‘s fabulous recording from the 70’s.

(I hear Jump, Little Children does a mean version of it too…)

Si Bheag, Si Mhor …

It’s a mapped, mapped, mapped, mapped world
Friday March 04th 2005, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory

Lots of good news on the mapping front these days.  After years
with no real improvements to mapquest, yahoo! maps,  et al, there
are some new mapping tools gaining attention and server-farms. 

My favorite at the moment is map24; which does five huge things right:

  1. Clear, intuitive internationalization:
    follow the “international” or “choose map” links at the top, to get a
    localized interface and map (in 12 languages).  As crazy as it sounds, there is NO WAY to get to, e.g., from
  2. Interactive zooming,
    letting you choose the rectangle you want to zoom into.  This is a
    sexy concept — useful for maximizing the effectiveness of printouts —
    and brilliantly executed (it is done smoothly, as if panning in). 
    Also of interest: they dynamically update the location of street and
    region names so that they all fit on your map. 
  3. Highlighting of one-way streets
    For whatever bizarre reason, many major map companies (Y!, G) still
    don’t do this, and mapquest only offers it at the highest level of
  4. Providing excellent in-map tools:  A distance measure,
    that both shows you interactive distance-circles around a point, and
    lets you plot out a multi-leg path, adding the distances of each leg to
    the map; and a reorient yourself tool that quickly zooms out and back in.
  5. Allowing you to have a big map:
    one 98% the size of your screen.  Speed is proportional to the
    size of your map is, but this still rocks my geographical location.

Unfortunately, map24 isn’t fast; it can take a good half-minute to load
initially, depending on how well your machine handles its Java
applet.  They offer a static mode which is significantly faster, but still not as fast as the other big map providers.

Other amazing mapping services that are steadily improving: 

  • Google Maps, which has hit the review circuit recently: fast and cute; offers
    maps 75% of your screen size; currently ad-free, and only for the US.  (Note that Google partners w/ map24 to provide maplinks for the European Google sites)
  • Mapblast, now part of MSN, which offers maps 50% of your screen size, and some excellent fonts and icons for marking up their maps
  • Terrafly, offering satellite and aerial images of much of the world (NYT review; supported by NASA and IBM); also slow, but gov’t-sponsored and ad-free.
  • Keyhole,
    offering high-resolution, high-quality flyby views of much of the
    world; via a free 7-day trial or $30/year subscription.  Talk
    about sex appeal!

And here are some mapping overviews for more:

Hoom! maps have sadly shut their doors…

It’s a mapped, mapped, mapped, mapped world …

Language-free Flash in the collective Pan
Wednesday March 02nd 2005, 12:06 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory

You all know I’m a huge fan of language-free communication.
That is, using definitions of “language” and “communication” that are
productively different.  (If they are synonyms in your idiolect, I
may have a hard time expressing this notion to you in English!)

Done properly, it is faster and more thorough than any language could
be.  So I collect stories, puzzles, instructions, snake-charming
techniques — anything with a didactic, connection-forming, or
otherwise predictable effect — that are independent of language. 
The more universal the effect, and the more specific the concepts
conveyed, the better. 

Here are from two [groups of] animators whose work I love, though each
is sprinkled
with morsels from specific languages or cartoon-cultures… for the
first, you should know what cats, rabbits, and love-icons look like in
cartoon form, and live in a world with coffee-vending machines and
elevators.  For the second, well, you only need some experience
with hammers and nails, and with larger creatures eating smaller ones.

  • SamBakZa‘s There she is,
    an gem of conceptual and visual collage; full of broadly-evocative
    human emotion, shared experience, and instinctive thought processes;
    with a rich and crystal-clear plot that is an object-lesson in
    elision.  The background music, like the producers, is
    Korean.  The whole is the greatest animation short I’ve seen in
    years.  [Here’s an FAQ about it; here is the sequel, “Cakedance“.]

  • Walk-smash-walk, a simple animation by Sakupen
    inspired directly by a dream, captures the essence of some elaborate
    relationships, emotions, and motivations, without wasting effort on
    characters, dialogue, or plot.  I cannot imagine having this
    vignette described to me in words.

  • Adam Phillips’s Prowlies at the River, about a half-hour’s
    interaction among a collection of unfamiliar creatures in a somewhat
    familiar forest.  There is introduction text, but the vignette
    does just as well without it.

If you have a fave olde-tyme cartoon or bit of wordless film, past or present, let me know. 

Wednesday March 02nd 2005, 9:33 am
Filed under: %a la mod

The catchiest tune of last decade that you’ve never heard of : Bananaphone, by Raffi,
creator of such standbys as “C-A-N-A-D-A” and “Cowlit Night.” 
Since remixed into a whole passle of fabulous pieces, such as a
well-known flash-badger animation (badger animation via Lemonizer) . 

Why do I bring this up?  It isn’t my latent desire to expose
to today’s best music?  I heard the badger-version of the song a
long time ago, and thought nothing of it.  But I just discovered
Dave Teatro’s disturbing and awful
explanation of the rest of the bananaphone story
(violently absurdist flash animation via Newgrounds), which includes a
lot more of the original song, with excellent sound quality (and not
sped-up high-pitched voices). 

And it is the most distressingly catchy song I’ve ever heard…  the kind
that you start dancing to before you realize with horror that under no
circumstances should you even be
listening to it in the first place.  It’s probably safest if you
don’t even read the lyrics.

~poodoopadoo-oopadoop… poodoopadoo-oopadoop~
Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring, bananaphone

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring, bananaphone

I’ve got this feeling, so appealing

For us to get together and sing- sing !

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring, bananaphone

Ding dong ding dong ding dong ding, donanaphone

It grows in bunches

I’ve got my hunches;

It’s the best, beats the rest!

Cellular, Modular, Interactiveodular

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring, bananaphone

Ping pong ping pong ping pong ping, pananaphone

It’s no baloney, 
It ain’t a phoney,

My cellular, bananular phone!

Don’t need quarters, don’t need dimes

To call a friend of mine.

Don’t need computer or TV

To have a real good time.

I’ll call for pizza, I’ll call my cat

I’ll call the White House, have a chat

I’ll place a call around the world:

Operator get me Beijing jing jing jing…

Bananaphone, ring ring ring – It’s a phone with a peal!

Bananaphone, ring ring ring – Now you can have your phone and eat it too!
Bananaphone, ring ring ring – This song drives me, bananas!
Bananaphone, ring ring ring…..

Bananaphone! …

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